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New program will increase student support services

The introduction of California’s Student Success Act will bring a variety of changes to how Palomar College provides support services to its students.

The Student Success Act, passed in 2012, seeks to refine the variety of student service programs known as the Student Success & Support Program or matriculation. Colleges that want funding from the bill will have to submit budget and program plans annually.

The purpose of the Student Success Act is to improve and provide new critical support services to students to increase student success, according to Palomar Dean of Counseling Brian Stockert.

“It’s not just more services,” Stockert said, “it’s the way we provide services.”

Because Palomar has received funding from the Student Success Act, it is currently reworking its Student Success & Support Program. The support services that the plan covers include admissions, orientation, assessment and placement, counseling, and assisting students in the development of education plans, according to Stockert.

“We’re going to be able to put more resources into counseling support,” Stockert said. “For example, providing more assessment staff to help with placement testing to minimize wait times.”

The plan would also provide follow-up and academic intervention to at-risk students, such as those enrolled in basic skills courses, students who have not developed an education plan or students who are on academic probation, according to Faculty Senate meeting minutes.

“We want to see more students persist and succeed,” Stockert said.

Various changes that the Student Success Act would have at Palomar include the refinement of the admissions and orientation processes, the introduction of student ambassadors who would go to classes and educate students about support services and counseling liaisons that would help student services staff work more closely with instructional faculty.

In addition, the plan would see the implementation of digital services, such as online orientations and degree auditing software that would allow a student to quickly pull up transcripts from other colleges and the creation of an online portal that would simplify the way students can access these services. There also will be in-person orientation.

“It’s a modern generation who uses technology heavily,” Stockert said.

Support services such as counseling and developing education plans are beneficial to all students, but especially those receiving federal financial aid. These services can help a student stay on track and continue to receive aid.

Mary San Agustin, Palomar’s director of financial aid, said that the plan “will help financial aid students so they can finish before they hit the federal unit limit.”

The SSSP plan is currently being reviewed by various campus officials, such as the Faculty Senate and the Strategic Planning Council. It is due to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office by Oct. 17, according to Stockert.

Palomar College has already received its allocation from the Student Success Act and will begin implementing the funds, which have to be spent by June of next year, to its Student Success & Support Program.

The Student Success Act, also known as Senate Bill 1456, aims to improve educational outcomes for students and better prepare them to enter the workforce, according to a California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office press release.

The Student Success & Support Program, as well as the Student Success Act, both originated from a bill known as the Seymour Campbell Matriculation Act, that helped define the processes of student matriculation when it was passed in 1986.

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